Students will have to wait two years, to 2014, to enjoy Oakton Community College’s new, 93,000 square-foot, $39 million Science and Health Careers Center, a project that began on April 5. But other projects part of the college’s five-year master plan, projected to cost $68.5 million total, will be completed at different times, and some of that work has begun as well.
A combination of work on new and existing construction will take place through 2017, and will include the Science and Health Careers Center, the largest single project in the plan, a new student enrollment center, a student gathering area, renovated classrooms, infrastructure improvements and more.
Legat Architects completed Oakton’s master plan, and the plan for the Science and Health Careers Center. Jeffrey Sronkoski, lead architect on the careers center project, said after completing a process gathering input from all different areas of the college, including from trustees, faculty, administrators and others, they identified four things that were important to the college.
“One was to develop classrooms, another was to develop an enrollment center, third was a science and healthcare career center and a student gathering,” Sronkoski said. “And we’ve created a master plan around those four things.”
Janet Spector-Bishop, senior manager of marketing at Oakton, said 50 classrooms would be renovated with better lighting, updated furnishings and made more user-friendly for technology. Some of that work had already been started over winter break, she said.
Spector-Bishop said construction on the new enrollment center, which will be a project with existing construction adjacent to the location for the careers center, would begin next fall. She said the enrollment center would bring together offices for admission, advising and counseling, registration, financial aid and records.
“We’re pulling all of those into one,” Spector-Bishop said. “It will be one stop shopping for students, and they won’t have to go to five different places around campus.”
Construction on the new student gathering space is expected to begin in 2013, Spector-Bishop said. It will include a formal space for students to socialize, studying and meeting rooms and space for a variety of student organizations.
A River Runs Through It
Sronkoski said the career center’s close proximity to the Des Plaines River flood plain affected how the structure was designed.
“First, we have to raise the building up off the ground,” Sronkoski said. “So half the building is raised up off the ground, so it doesn’t impact.”
Piers raise the center of the building 7.5 feet above ground level, and water will flow underneath it when the river floods, according to a brochure Legat issued about the project.
Sronkoski said another main part of the design was a diagonal that runs across on the first floor, where there’s an outdoor plaza. He said by constructing it this way the view across from the parking lot to the lake and the rest of the campus would not be restricted.
“That wedge through the building creates an outdoor area for students to enjoy the lake, enjoy the building, but also create sort of a funnel into the building, and directs people to where the new enrollment center will be,” Sronkoski said.